Just A Minute blog

A blog on the BBC radio programme Just A Minute

Location: Wellington, New Zealand

February 18, 2008

Nicholas admits to being bad with money

from The Guardian

Nicholas Parsons had an eye for a bargain as host of the TV quiz show Sale of the Century but, in real life, he claims not to be a shrewd investor. The veteran presenter and actor claims bad timing is responsible for a long list of stockmarket failures. Parsons, 84, says: "I am a disastrous investor. I have picked some good stocks in my time, but then the whole experience becomes too tedious to follow up.

"It means I always miss the right time to sell and end up losing money."

He lists the now defunct Railtrack as his worst punt. "The share price rose after floating on the market but I just let the stock drift until it was too late and I lost the lot. If you are a money person, your instinct should be to know when to sell and move on but, sadly, this is not a talent I possess."

However, Parsons, who became a household name hosting Sale of the Century ("And now, from Norwich...it's the quiz of the week!") throughout the 70s and early 80s, is far more concerned about the damage created by too much greed for wealth.

"Wanting more money is often a state of envy where you desire what others have - this can be unhealthy. I have had a blessed career and put job satisfaction as far more important than money. The most rewarding work is often the worst paid. The secret is to enjoy living within your means." He has chaired the BBC Radio 4 panel show Just a Minute for the past 40 years and believes the pleasure and joy this has brought, with its wealth of words, is priceless compared to cash.

His hobbies include collecting and repairing clocks - there are quite an assortment cluttering up his house. Perhaps appropriately, he says people are often preoccupied with wealth, but adds that time is the most valuable commodity of all.

He rates playing a vicar, the Reverend Mr Wainwright, in Doctor Who in 1989, as one of his most enjoyable acting roles and, more recently, enjoyed touring in his One Man Comedy Show.

He reckons that the "obscene sums" earned by soccer players, company bosses and City workers "show something is going wrong with society," adding: "To value yourself and others in terms of money is wrong and sends a sad message out to youngsters."

The best investment he ever made was almost his worst. "I had an apartment in London in the late 70s that I was trying to sell so the family could buy a place in the country. We took out a bridging loan when we found the house we wanted but couldn't find a buyer - interest rates were crippling and we almost lost everything.

"In the end we managed to get through the crisis and kept the London home, which subsequently benefited from soaring property prices."


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